COLORADO: Zeke* is intelligent, assertive, athletic, resilient, and “determined to have a better life” than his start in foster care. Because he has many positive qualities, Zeke has been in several foster care homes with promising beginnings. In his last setting, his foster parents did not anticipate they would fall in love with him and would want to adopt him. But as they made their intentions known, Zeke unwittingly began to self-sabotage the relationship and, unfortunately, caused his removal to another foster home. As Zeke started a relationship with his new foster family, he also experienced the unfortunate timing of receiving a new child advocate.
Technology helped bridge the gap and lessen the impact of isolation and child advocate turnover. The new child advocate was fortunate to begin her work supporting Zeke with an existing family network created in Connect Our Kids Family Connections platform by her predecessor. Instead of starting from scratch with a big binder of loosely connected papers, Zeke’s digital record visually mapped a close relationship with a community mentor. When contacted, the community mentor shared a deeper context than paper files would ever be able to reveal. The mentor could see in Zeke something that he could not see himself. Zeke had several connections to people who deeply cared for him. The community mentor wanted to remain in his life and knew that others shared a similar devotion to his welfare.
As the mentor shared Zeke’s previous foster parents’ love for him, the child advocate realized that they also were a valuable missing connection in Zeke’s life. He reached out to the previous foster parents, who began phone conversations with Zeke to support building better relationships in his new setting. These conversations, and therapy, helped Zeke realize a pattern of pushing people away as they tried to make significant connections with him.
These discussions with his previous foster parents also helped to teach him the role of asking questions in parenting. Zeke viewed attempts to teach self-regulation as intrusive, punitive, as he was unaccustomed to rules and expectations. Being in a new setting, where the new foster parents offered similar guidance, Zeke realized he was unfamiliar with what it meant to have nurturing support.
It was a revelation to Zeke that his perceptions were negatively shaping his relationships. It was an even greater revelation to learn that his previous foster care family still wanted him as their family member. In this case, technology helped a child advocate recognize a pattern before it could repeat. Zeke has returned to his previous foster family, who, in the meantime, have adopted another boy his age. The new brothers already banter lightheartedly like siblings. After his 9th placement, Zeke was adopted by his previous foster family.
Zeke’s child advocate was so excited for him:
“Connections is the BIG word… because even professionals can be such a big help. It doesn’t have to be the child’s birth family. It shows the power of having people who want the kid to be successful. And that’s cool to see!”
Connect Our Kids is a non-profit dedicated to leveraging technology to find families, build connections, and create a community for children in the foster care system. Want to help more children like Zeke? You can today by donating HERE.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.